Cummins leads the way as Australia take advantage in 2nd test against Pakistan | Cricket


Australia’s pace-bowling captain Pat Cummins struck twice in four balls to crush Pakistan’s comeback attempt on the second day of the second cricket test on Wednesday.

Australia's Pat Cummins, second left, celebrates the wicket of Pakistan's Abdullah Shafique(AP)
Australia’s Pat Cummins, second left, celebrates the wicket of Pakistan’s Abdullah Shafique(AP)

Pakistan started strongly then collapsed to reach 194/6 at stumps in reply to Australia’s first-innings total of 318 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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A total of 13 wickets fell in an eventful second day’s play.

Cummins claimed 3-37 and off-spinner Nathan Lyon took 2-48 for Australia. Abdullah Shafique (62) and skipper Shan Masood (54) both made half-centuries, sharing a 90-run partnership for Pakistan’s second wicket.

Pakistan’s openers had survived the new ball before Lyon made the initial breakthrough in the 16th over, removing Imam-ul-Haq caught at second slip for 10 at 34/1.

Cummins changed the momentum of the day’s play by claiming a diving return catch to dismiss Shafique at 124-2. Cummins leapt into the air in delight in his next over after bowling Babar Azam for one, finding a gap between bat and pad with a fabulous off-cutter as the crowd of 44,837 roared with delight.

Cummins said his catch to remove Shafique was a stroke of luck.

“Off the bat, they are pretty hard to pick up. They either stick or they don’t,” Cummins said. “Luckily that one stuck, I think in the other hand to what I thought it was going to go in. It was a satisfying wicket. He was playing well.”

Skipper Shan aimed a mighty swipe down the ground, advancing down the pitch and edging a catch to point off Lyon’s bowling as Pakistan slumped to 147/4.

Four runs later, pace bowler Josh Hazlewood clipped Saud Shakeel’s off stump. When Cummins removed Salman Ali Agha caught behind at 170-6, Pakistan had endured a middle-order collapse of 5/46.

Mohammad Rizwan was unbeaten on 29 at stumps. Pakistan trails by 124 runs with four first-innings wickets in hand.

Shafique said he hoped the seventh-wicket partnership between Rizwan and Aamir Jamal, which stands at 24, would allow Pakistan to recover momentum.

The opening batter added that Pakistan’s bowlers had done well to restrict Australia to 318.

“The thing that we are lacking with the batting is the partnerships,” Shafique said. “We are pretty much in the game now. As a bowling unit, we have done a good job.”

Australia had resumed Wednesday on 187/3, following a rain-interrupted first day of play in which only 66 of the scheduled 90 overs were bowled.

The home side was bowled out for 318 at lunch Wednesday, losing seven wickets for 131 in an extended morning session that lasted more than two-and-a-half hours.

Marnus Labuschagne top-scored with a patient 63 off 155 balls and Mitchell Marsh crunched 41 off 60 deliveries including six fours and one six.

David Warner, dropped on two, scored 38 in a 90-run opening stand with Usman Khawaja (42) Tuesday. Australia’s second top-scorer was the 51 extras conceded by Pakistan, including 20 byes and 15 wides.

Wicketkeeper Rizwan’s one-handed catch to remove Alex Carey for four was a fine example of Pakistan’s improved efforts in the field Wednesday as pace quartet Shaheen Shah Afridi (2/85), Mir Hamza (2/51), Hasan Ali (2/61) and Aamir Jamal (3/64) maintained pressure on Australia.

Australia won the first test in Perth by 360 runs.

The third test in the three-match series is scheduled to begin Jan. 3 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Pakistan won its last test in Australia in 1995.

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